With the London Olympics underway, most of us are thinking swimming, gymnastics, track and field. J. C. Martin wants us to think about something entirely different, if only for a few suspenseful hours. A fellow J. Taylor author, I had the privilege of reading and advanced copy of her book, Oracle:
With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn’t need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they’ve got one anyway.
Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter’s disability.
Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.
One of whom could be his own daughter.
Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer’s only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.
See what I mean? LOL
Now, let’s chat with the woman behind the book. Welcome J.C.
What are your thoughts on publishing a book about a potential terrorist attack on the London Olympics while the games will be underway?
The topic is definitely current, and the threat is definitely real, but the terrorist attack plays only a small part at the climax of the book. There are already books out there (including one by James Patterson) playing specifically on the political and social aspects of a terrorist attack on the Games, but my book will focus more on the disturbed psyche of the killer at this major event. In any case, I have confidence in the precautions the city has taken to avert and neutralize any potential threats, including installing missile towers in buildings around the stadium!
I loved Lancer’s daughter, Meghan, but ached for her ever-encroaching disability. How much research did you have to do to portray her degenerative disease?
I did hours of research to pin-point a specific genetic disorder that will affect someone of Meghan’s age, with the right progression time to draw out Lancer’s agony of his daughter’s disability. A lot of my research was done online, although as an ex-schoolteacher, I have had experience dealing with students with similar disabilities.
Any plans for sequels to Oracle? Will we see more of Lancer, Blaize or Holloway?
I’m currently writing a second book, tentatively titled Labyrinth. So yes, Lancer and Co. will be back in an all-new adventure involving the murky depths of the London Underground. That is all I can say for now.
If you were going to do a spin off series from your book, what character or characters would you “borrow” or make-up, drawing upon the same world, and what type of events would you write about?
Funny you should ask! Scott Long is a character who appears for just one chapter in Oracle, but when I wrote him, he came to life before my eyes, complete with personality, quirks, and back story. Since then he’s refused to leave my head, so I’m planning a spin-off thriller series featuring him, set predominantly in London, involving the dark world of the China Town Triads.
What aspects of your life are most neglected because of your writing?
Apart from (obviously) the housework, it’ll have to be my long-suffering husband. Bless him, he does support me any way he can, but he does tend to get ignored once I’m rooted to the computer.
Are you naturally shy or outgoing? Has this changed any since you published your book? If shy, how have you dealt with and/or overcome it and what circumstances required it? If outgoing, have you had to dial it back and if so when or why? If not, how has an outgoing personality helped you most as an author?
I’m a natural introvert, but find that I can be way more outgoing online than in person. So I use that to my advantage by trying to do as much marketing as I can through cyberspace. I’ve had to do a couple of readings at conferences, and although they are nerve-wracking, I got through them OK. What I need to work on is to learn to approach and talk to strangers, and not to just sit in a corner like a wallflower. I kind of feel I’m trying to shove my book in people’s faces when I introduce myself as a writer at these events! I’m looking forward to speaking on a panel at a conference one day, although I don’t know how articulate I’m going to be without a fixed script! More practice, I suppose.
Fill in the blank for us. “You know you’re a writer when…”
…You keep a pair of industrial-grade ear defenders on your work desk for when the TV gets too loud.
…You start mentally editing everything you read, from a novel to a news article, to a recipe.
…You learn to grunt and nod at the right points of a conversation someone holds with you while you’re writing without actually hearing a word.
…You find yourself eavesdropping and spying on strangers around you to pick up mannerisms and characteristics for people in your next book.
Whose works do you read and then think, “I am nothing but a hack?” if you think that at all? And if you don’t have those thoughts, how do you build that sort of self-confidence in yourself?
Lately, I’ve been reading the works of fellow crime writer Toby Neal, who self-publishes her Lei Crime series. Her ability to ramp of the tension and mystery, to add layers of complexity and depth to her stories, makes her crime novels well worth reading, although it does make me feel inadequate after reading them!
Describe your reading habits, likes and preferences when a kid and now. Do you set reading goals, read when the mood hits or you have the time, read to swap favors with other writers …?
I definitely had time to read more when I was growing up. The first books I read (apart from the usual Ladybird books) were Archie Comics, then Enid Blyton’s fairytales, St. Clare’s and Mallory Towers series. As I hit my tweens I read my first taste of mystery and psychological thrillers in R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series, and I developed a taste for horror from reading Christopher Pike. Through my teens I started reading some of my mom’s books, and found I loved her crime novels: John Sandford, Richard Montanari, James Patterson, etc. My love for crime has stayed with me ever since, although recently I’ve also been widening my repertoire and enjoying some chick lit, paranormal and YA, as I read to swap favours with other authors.
If you use a pen name, tell us how you came up with it.
J.C. Martin is a combination of my married name and the initials of my maiden name.
About the Author:
After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.
Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle is her first novel.
Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.
And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Oracle at these fine booksellers: